Friday, May 18, 2018

Goin' To Kansas City, oh yeah...

 I had lived in the Kansas City, Missouri area for a few years, back in the 1970s, so I "sorta" knew my way around.

I flew in on a Sunday early afternoon and had planned to spend the night at an all-suite hotel* near MCI.

The Mid-Continent International name made this city different - instead of a standard abbreviation like CHS for Charleston, this airport got its name from its location - in the middle of the country.

It was also the hub for TWA, Trans World Airlines when I had lived there.

I was promoting the beauty and attractions of KC such as its wide boulevards and beautiful fountains and I worked for the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

My role was to get tourists to come and another fellow headed a team to get conventions to come and fill the new Center that had just opened.

One of the tourism standout highlights was the World War 1 Memorial and Museum just about mid-town, close to the Crown Center, known for its famously-worded greeting cards for all occasions.

The view from the top of the Memorial Tower was a place I had often taken visitors to look down on the skyline.

Quite frankly, in all the years I had promoted the attractions, I had never been inside the multi-level museum floors at the base of the tower.

I was staying with my cousin Ellen who lives in KC and her younger sister Diana who had come down from Chicago to spend some time with me on this part of my family-visit and extended birthday celebration.

We roamed around, dining and sightseeing - especially around the famed Country Club Plaza, the true heart of the city.

There was no golf course at this country club but fountains were everywhere.

The two ladies and I and stepped into the small elevator to ride to the top of the 217- foot tall structure.

Strong wind and a great view!

The entrance to the Museum and Memorial had you cross a glass bridge., looking down on a vast field of red poppys.

Growing up in Charleston, I  remember seeing current veterans selling paper flowers to tuck in your lapel to remember the 19 million who died in the Great War.

As we were parking near the Plaza, I saw what I thought might be a food truck.

If it were, the food offering would be severely limited.

Boiled, parched or salted from the Planter's Peanut promotional vehicle.

I even noticed the shape of the rear-view mirrors.

We parked and strolled over to the Plaza for a leisurely lunch and then set out to view the wind-whipped fountains, a major symbol of the city.

Standing upwind, I was able to keep my camera dry and took a posed shot of the ladies by the largest Nichols Fountain in the flower-filled area.

After that photo which required full color, I set the camera for some black and white likenesses.

This stop was nearing the end of my journey.

I made this trip to see my children, see their children and even their children.

These are the four young boys who are my Great-Grandsons and I had not met them yet.

The oldest was just 3 years old and lived in Columbia, Missouri and Bonner Springs, Kansas.

A mere 28 miles from the airport.

My grandson Matt had suggested he would drive his wife and two boys in from Columbia and we would all meet at his brother Michael's house just across the line in Kansas.

I had thought a suite in a hotel would be adequate. DUH.

I was pleasantly surprised by Mike's roomy house and vast yard as everyone had space to run and play.

This had all happened Sunday when I first landed in Kansas City and was staying at the nearby hotel.

We all love our Smartphones with their ability to GPS us to any place we needed.

Suffice to say, my phone failed at a crucial junction and I drove North instead of South and arrived hours later than we all had expected.

I apologized as I ate some food they had grilled earlier and it was delicious.

It was wonderful meeting and seeing all of these midwestern kinfolks!

More about this family gathering of mine in later blog postings.

Thanks for tagging along on this cross-country adventure.

It was coming to an end of almost two weeks of flying and driving and I enjoyed every minute!

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Suits me to a "T"....

Everywhere we look, there are signs.

Or ads.

Or messages.

And billboards.

Or names and team symbols on colorful jerseys.

80-inch flat screen television sets.

And, yes, beer names and labels.

This sign was in the ladies room at a new brewery that just opened in the Park Circle area.

The owner pointed it out to me when we chatted about Commonhouse Aleworks, the newest craft brewery in the area.

It's a sign of the times when a plea for help is not only solicited in a potentially dire situation, but assistance is offered.

They had other helpful reminders that were posted sort of tongue-in-cheek but this one was a serious attempt to help.

I did not check to see if a similar offer was posted in the men's room.

I did like the variation on Employee sanitation rules and a friendly suggestion to all of us.

We all see signs everywhere. I just happen to have a camera to capture them the share.

I now use my phone cam as a visual memo pad.

I was at a meeting, jotting down names on the attendance list when - DUH - I remembered, took out my phone and snapped a photo of the list.

At another meeting, shortly after I retired in 2004, I handed a printed card to an attendee.

He snapped a photo of it and then sent HIS electronic "card" to my phone.

I felt so old-fashioned!

I stopped my MUNCLE, one of my favorite new breweries, and saw they now offered their Belgium brews in tall cans (32 ounces).

That is called a Crawler (as in can) as opposed to a 64-ounce glass Growler which is a glass jug.

At least, in this case, the label is applied as another step.

The Crawler is a good way to take home two pints of a beer you like.

The rest of this posting is a variety of signs I've seen and snapped. Enjoy

Thanks for stopping by.

I'm packing for a several-weeks trip out West. Will post again when I get back.

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Sunday, April 01, 2018

When THE BIG STORY really is....

The daily San Diego newsletter I receive from my old newspaper buddies out there suggested the topic "My Big Story." 

It was assumed many of the 500 members of retirees and former editorial staffers had a favorite story - or photo - that really stood out in their mind.

I had a "big" one and sent this in:

I was assigned to cover what turned out to be a long, long search for a small 10-year-old boy missing for five days in a thickly-wooded mountainous area. He had wandered away from a church picnic.

Search and Rescue crews combed the area and helicopters roared overhead. Day and night the search went on.  I was at the police base camp, along with reporters from both San Diego papers (One owner, two competing papers). 

My official "hat" would be the morning San Diego Union totally - until all of its deadlines passed. Then I "switched hats" and became the Evening Tribune's on-scene photographer.

Photo Lab Chief Stan Griffin was a bit upset that I was out there so long but he didn't want me to miss the story while switching photographers before the story played out.

The boy was finally found, tired to exhaustion, hungry and covered with bug bites and bruises. 

When he was on a stretcher, being carried to an ambulance, a newly-arrived tv crew tried to jump in front of me and my camera.

I did what had to be done after five long anxious days and nights. 

The sturdy fiber case we carried slung over a shoulder held flashbulbs and spare 4x4 film packets. It was quite heavy.

When I swung it forward, it knocked the tv guys out of my way and  I captured a close-up of the tired but happy face of the rescued child. It made the front page of the Union.

I had another almost big story when Jacques Cousteau's son was knocked unconscious, yanked into the San Diego harbor and could have drowned.

He was experimenting with using a parachute and being reeled out to float high over a pod of whales for quiet aerial views far from the noisy towing boat.

Excited, I had called LIFE magazine, knowing it liked a celebrity-in-danger story. When they asked, "Did he die?" I answered that he was only knocked unconscious and was pulled quickly from the water by rescuers.

Oh, never mind then," said the editor at the magazine.

I guess I learned a valuable lesson in national magazines that day.

Despite the old tv news adage "If it bleeds, it leads, " there are degrees of severity, even for the son of a well-known aquatic figure.

I later did get a humorous full-page black and white photo in the magazine, but, as is said, that's another story.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for wandering back in the past with me today.

I do that a LOT on here.

Check back to see if I'm doing time-travel again.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

This is the retirement version of "Sweet 16" ......

Last Friday of each fiscal quarter. 

March, June, September, and December. 

Easy to remember.

The group of retirees from the Post and Courier have it marked on the calendar. 

And they wander over to Mt. Pleasant to the Liberty Taproom a bit before lunchtime to see old friends, do some catching up and lots and lots of "whatever happened to..." and "Remember the time we..."

We had 16 members of the "134 Gang," gather around noon today.*

Some admitted it had been a year since they last came to the quarterly lunch. Others seldom miss any of these good friends gatherings.

I must have missed a meeting or two because for many years I was named the "contact guy" who alerted members of these 4x a year functions, mailing out reminder postcards and seeking elusive email addresses.

The others tell me the first gatherings were at the old Ryan's Steakhouse in West Ashley and then it moved to Mt. Pleasant at what used to be the restaurant now called Harbor Breeze next to the Omar Shrine Temple. 

Today at Liberty, our server stepped back and took the group photo. 

I had finally realized I was NOT in the group photos because I usually was the guy holding the camera.

Well, I am a photographer.

Not only do I now hand over the camera - or Smartphone - for an overall photo, I no longer send out the notices and reminders. 

Norman Newton took on that challenge and does a great job of informing the "members" of the upcoming event throughout the year.

Today, Good Friday, some members chose fish and across from me, I saw a full plate of what I'll just call the Codfather.

To maintain my determination to avoid salt, my chicken club came with broccoli instead of those delicious-looking fries. What willpower!

Oh, as you looked at the group shot you may have counted only 15 members in attendance.

Latecomer David MacDougall completed the Sweet 16 number as he was handed a menu and encouraged to try and catch up.

Tough room!

Again, ALL of the lunches were paid for by a member who tries to remain anonymous. He has done this for the last 4 or 5 lunches.

I shook his hand and thanked him. We all did.

There are no secrets here, we're newspapermen.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Glad you were able to stop by for our quarterly event. 

As the saying goes.."Newspapers have been very, very good to me."

*134 is the address of the P&C building/plant on Columbus Street as well as the address for decades on Meeting Street.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

"A license to spill..."

 Speaking of fake ID cards/drivers' licenses, the College of Charleston (S.C.) was founded in 1770 and chartered 15 years later in 1785.

 (No indication why there was a 15-year gap but possibly it was tied in with the growth of the city, the fact that it had finally shucked the awkward original name of Charles Towne, and it started to build and develop its famed Historic District downtown.)

The C of C has about 10,300 students roaming around its beautiful 52-acre campus. 

 Many of these students are under the legal drinking age (21) and yet, many of these same students do a LOT of drinking and partying in public bars, of which there are many.

 Bartenders are wise and have several ways to discern if the proffered driver's license is valid or even real.

 One downtown bar of an Irish persuasion started sticking captured fake IDs around a back bar mirror but, because they were hard to read at that distance, it created a tabletop, covered with all sorts of fake and dubious pieces of identification.

A license with a girl's face on it, shown by a young man, is pretty easy to discern and it is kept by the bartender. 

 One that caught my eye among those on the Tabletop of Shame, was an out-of-state license that was printed vertically, indicating the bearer is underage. Duh.

You go to college to learn. Some quicker than others.

I just went through the rigid DMV guidelines to renew my driver's license and now have the REAL License. 

With it, I can go through TSA to board airplanes and step foot on military bases.

Without the yellow star on the face of the license, you would have to carry your passport to do that after a certain date next year.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tin Roof musical treats..

An unplanned evening often is the best kind.

My buddy came by and we decided to go eat at Yo Bo Cantina in Park Circle.

It is well known for its big, fat, and tasty burritos and its large Mason jars of MargaRitas. During happy hour, they are extra reasonable and not too bad the rest of the night.

I sipped an IPA beer and noshed on the chips and guacamole platter as my buddy worked his way through a veggie Burrito-in-a-bowl.


Then he remembered there was a 2-act show at the Tin Roof, so we headed there, arriving just as the first act -local Lily Slay - finished her sound check.

Naturally, I snapped a few photos with my cell phone.
As stated, this was not a planned event so my camera had stayed at home.

I have enjoyed comic and singer Lily Slay several times before when she teamed up with Mackie Boles and they perform as the Royal Tinfoil.

Tonight Lily was solo and opening for her friend Lara Hope, down from New York and ending a grueling regional tour with 3 weeks to go.

By herself - well, with a drummer backing her - I was thinking back to when I had met Mama Cass Elliott on a set at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

Miss Elliott was starring in a film on the lot and I was a publicist at the time.

Tonight was a mix of comedy and song and I laughed while sipping a beer when she sang an original love song about a wish to make love with a friend's father. A strange May/December relationship if there ever was one

Lara Hope, the headliner, and her 3-piece band took the stage.

She was a whirling figure, in her black cowboy hat, her dress and even her boots were fringed.

Yes, the boots were black and fringed. A cowgirl from the Bronx!

Both ladies had fans who showed their support, loudly singing along, dancing and clapping.

I had worn a t-shirt that said MARINES and a fellow seated next to me at the bar, asked if I were a Marine? He had been one too and offered to buy me and my buddy a beer.

I accepted and added that I was probably more "Old Corps" than he.

We swapped dates we had served and I had him beat by at least 20 years. Both of us had served only a four-year hitch.

As we drank our beers, I noted he was sipping a $2 PBR while we were enjoying a $7 IPA.

I quietly asked Johnny the bartender to not only let me pay for the next Pabst Blue Ribbon for my new former Marine friend but also a meal if he happened to order food.

I wanted to close that gap between what he paid and my effort in returning the favor.

Glancing at the "merch table" for Lara Hope, I saw a posted lyric that I found amusing.

Wouldn't you know it, that was part of the song she sang at the close of her performance.

I hope she and her group safely finished their long, extended tour on the road.

It reminded me that they were "down South" while her hometown suffered through a third Nor'Easter in less than 10 days of blizzard conditions and flooding.

Kind of a good time to "be on the road again."

(Click on the photos and links for more details.) 

Thanks for hanging out with me for some cold suds and music.

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Friday, March 02, 2018

The BIG fire of 1955...

Here is a "memory-flogger from 1955. It is part of Charleston's history and I was directly involved - well, at least in my dad's mind. 

Let me explain.

I was a 17-year old Junior at Bishop England High School, spending the day on  Sullivan's Island.
When we guys saw the smoke billowing up from downtown, there was a mad dash to hop in the car and race home over the 2-lane Cooper River bridge.

Living in Ansonborough on Society Street, I was fairly close to the fire near Queen and East Bay Streets so I jogged on over there. 
I saw other teenagers were helping firefighters "pull hoses" so I joined in to help.

Meanwhile, my dad too saw the thick black smoke and heard all the fire equipment racing past our house. 

He walked down to the waterfront to see what was going on.
  Other buddies from BEHS were assisting the firefighters and my dad saw one he knew and asked if he had seen me.

"Yes, he's right around the corner...under a blanket."

Technically, he was right. 

Like most of us, my eyes were stinging from the acrid smoke and a fireman had squeezed an ointment in my eyes, handed me a CFD blanket and told me to take a break. So I did.

My dad saw me, rushed up and hugged me tightly. Then he yelled at me ....for scaring him!

That ended my participation in "fighting the fire" and we slowly walked back home, agreeing we would not tell my mom what had raced through his mind.

Here's my photo the next year at the BEHS Junior-Senior dance. My hair no longer smelled of smoke.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Two "Martins," no waiting....

Steve Martin, onstage at the PAC (Performing Arts Center), said he remembered the unique Continental seating here in North Charleston.

It was designed in Europe, hence the name "Continental."

Wide, curving, long rows with soft, comfortable seats - but no center aisle. It was created for people who never had to pee during a performance.

I had had that thought many times!

It was understood - and announced - that Steve and Martin Short did
not want any recordings during the show so I took a chance and snapped a few still pictures. 

But, no video.

My phone cam does not take good telephotos so I apologize for the lack of sharpness of this quick photo.

They both darted around the stage a lot so it was a challenge to catch them close together and relatively still.

The banter seemed harsh at first but then Marty Short explained they were exchanging "Hollywood" compliments.

They sound sincere but each ends with a caustic comment. 

Here was a surprise, Steve Martin came onstage with a banjo!

The real surprise - and a nice one for people further back - was the big screen behind them acting as a Jumbotron.

I was in row "J" that meant I was about 12 or 13 rows away so I had a good view.

Billed as both “A Night You’ll Forget for the Rest of Your Life” and “See Them Before They’re Dead!”, the duo proved to have as much zip and relevance as ever as they told jokes, sang songs and reflected upon their lives in show business.

The pair first met 30 years ago on the set of “Three Amigos,” which, of course, was given a nice little tribute as three audience members were brought up on stage and taught the famous Amigos Salute.
Trading barbs and funny comments, they took turns alone on stage and Steve was accompanied by The Steep Canyon Rangers as he and his banjo teamed with a manic fiddle player for a bit of Bluegrass.
Short darted off and onstage in several different personas, the most elaborate as a baby-size Jiminy Glick with his zany and caustic comments.
This time he was NOT wearing a fat suit and appeared as a babe-in-arms held by Steve Martin.
Yes, you really had to be there!
For those not familiar with the Glick character, I have included a link. You have to experience one of his interviews. The one I included is with Mel Brooks.
He also appeared onstage as a busty cowgirl to sing along with Steve on banjo.
There were several standing ovations during the show and even a "comedy encore" at the end.
When they finished, they bowed and went into the wings where they were met by a PAC bigwig who pointed out they had contracted for a show that was 5-minutes longer. 
Sure enough, at the end of that "encore,"time, they both stopped in mid-sentence, waved and left the stage.
(Click on the photos and links for more details).
What a delightful and zany evening. Thanks for stopping by.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Picture this...."

My Photo Group had a demonstration of portrait lighting on Saturday.

I am pleased I drove to Summerville to attend.

A nice small group as Gary set up his lights and a reflector in a nice size meeting place in Coastal Coffee Roasters.

Had not been in here before and saw a weekend Farmer's Market was clearing out as we arrived.

Gary Eaton pointed out the key light (strobe with a reflector umbrella), and the glowing "hair light"

It did just as you could guess, placing emphasis on the hair to show texture as well as separating it from the background.

A white reflector added as a "fill light" to make sure the shadows were not too deep and dark.

We asked if the vivid background of empty coffee bean bags would be "too busy?"

Gary showed how a wide opened aperture on the camera would cause the bags to blur.

He controlled that blur by moving back or closer to the subject.

We would look at the back of his camera to see the effects of the lighting and positioning after each shot.

He described each step in the process as he balanced the light input, shutter speed and effects on the blurred background.

Starting with shooting film in the 1970s, he explained that now we could look at a digital image right away.

With film, he would shoot multiple images while bracketing exposures to get just what he wanted.

Each of us had a turn posing as the others made note of why and how Gary was tweaking the desired results.

Truly a demo as opposed to a lecture.

We would ask why and he would show us alternatives.

As usual, I used my newspaper experience by stepping back and capturing the whole overall scene.

Gary would show us the small image on the camera back and later, he would take the time to finesse the image into his final version.
These he later posted on the Photo Group's Facebook page.

I was pleased the way Gary had positioned me and his instructions to lean one way or the other to make his lighting work on my face.

Usually, I am on the other side of the camera so I knew that he had an image in mind and, by following his directions, together we would create a pleasing result.

In my case, I now had a current bearded photo that I could use to send out to Casting Directors looking for people to be selected as an Extra or BG (Back Ground actor).

Several tv shows - and a movie with Jamie Lee Curtis -  are being filmed in Charleston and I have appeared already in some and hope to be chosen for more.

Cameras are not allowed on set so this was a good opportunity to have some new images to send when I apply for a casting call.

Oh, did I mention the Coastal Coffee Roasters also houses Oak Road Brewing?

I had visited the Summerville brewhouse when on my quest to sample all 23 local craft beer breweries in the Charleston area.

I had visited the 23rd one - Commonhose Aleworks - on O'Hair Street in the Park Circle area the second week it had opened.

I am diligent so I noted the addition of many new vats at Oak Road.

Brewmaster & COO Brian Cox told me they had increased their capacity 10 X and were now distributing kegs all around the Summerville and Charleston area.

The t-shirt they had for sale touts the "drink local" concept and continues to promote growth among the growing local brewers population and their efforts.

The photographers who had gathered for the demo wandered in and carried pints back next door.

We are very supportive of a worthy cause.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

Thanks for following my blog and today's "twofer" of a photo session and sippin' some freshly brewed cold suds.

Click on Brewery to see what I had to say as I visited all of our local craft beer makers sites and sampled their wares.

Stop by often and tell your friends.


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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Super Bowl MONDAY breakfast....

 OK. The Super Bowl LII is over.

It was an exciting game and the winner was in doubt as the scoring went back and forth.

No "blow out" here.

Quarterbacks - as usual - drew the most attention and the Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Most Valuable Player (MVP)... both for his passing and for his catching!

Yes, I was among the millions who enjoyed a pizza during the game.

Have no idea how many saved a slice for breakfast the next day.

I DO enjoy some cold pizza.

Along with scrambled egg (whites) and a peeled banana.

Watching my figure.

Here's the magic moment when Nick caught the TD pass.

Fast forward to Nick and the ride he caught with Mickey at the Magic Kingdom.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

No, I did not take the last two pictures. Found them online.

Could not be at home eating pizza AND be at the game.

And, I was not invited to "Go to Disneyland!"

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